Meet Nikki Chooi, the Met’s New Concertmaster

Last week, the Metropolitan Opera announced the appointment of a new concertmaster: 27-year-old Canadian violinist Nikki Chooi. Chooi, who grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, began studying the violin at the age of four through the Suzuki method, later attending Curtis and Juilliard. Last season he performed as a member of the innovative, genre-defying string trio, Time for Three. (Here is the group’s cover of Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off). Here’s an excerpt from Chooi’s …

Read more

Beethoven’s Wordless Recitatives

Ludwig van Beethoven may not be the first composer who comes to mind when considering recitative- the sung dialogue that links arias and other musical numbers in an opera or oratorio. Beethoven wrote only one opera, Fidelio, which uses more spoken dialogue than recitative. He spent almost ten excruciating years revising the work, writing four different overtures, and enduring harsh criticism, until finding success with the final 1814 version. So it’s interesting that operatic …

Read more

New Release: Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Marriage of Figaro

Today marks an exciting and long-anticipated release in the world of opera: conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s brand new live concert recording of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and an all-star cast. Nézet-Séguin was recently named successor to James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera, perhaps the most visible opera post in the world. This disk, recorded live at the 2,500-seat Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, is the latest in a series of Mozart operas Nézet-Séguin has released on the Deutsche Grammophon label. …

Read more

Maria João Pires and the Poetry of Chopin

There’s a really interesting moment at the end of the middle section (più lento) of Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne, Op. 48, No. 2 when the music stops. Throughout this section (which begins around the 2:40 mark), a recitative-like conversation between two contrasting voices has been unfolding. “A tyrant commands, and the other asks for mercy” is how Chopin described it. But then, with one haunting, heart-stopping chord (You’ll hear it at 5:02 in the clip below), all of the swagger …

Read more

A Charles Ives Fourth

Firecrackers, a cannon on the village green, an out-of-step band on Main Street, a fife and drum corps, church bells…All of this, and more, can be heard in Charles Ives’ 1912 tone poem, The Fourth of July, which forms the third movement of the “Holidays” Symphony. Ives imagined the larger-than-life festivities of a small New England town, as experienced by a child. But this music goes far deeper than the quaint Americana of Ives’ …

Read more

Five Musical Fireworks

It’s ironic that Independence Day in America isn’t complete without Tchaikovsky’s most famous ode to Russian nationalism: the bombastic 1812 Overture, which was written to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon’s invading army. As we head into the July Fourth holiday weekend, here are five more pieces that bring fireworks to mind: Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks In 1749, England’s King George II employed Handel to write music for a large, outdoor public celebration in …

Read more

Send this to a friend